Army to court-martial Sergeant Major McKinney
Faces 20 counts of sexual harassment
October 8, 1997
Web posted at: 5:02 p.m. EDT (2102 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Army announced Wednesday that Army Sgt. Major Gene C. McKinney will be court-martialed on charges of sexually harassing six servicewomen.
No date has been set for the trial, which will be held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. McKinney -- the highest ranking enlisted soldier in the Army -- will face 20 counts that include indecent assault, adultery and obstruction of justice.
The decision to court-martial McKinney follows a hearing that lasted more than eight weeks. McKinney, a 29-year veteran, contends that the investigation was racially motivated, and has said he would not admit any wrongdoing in order to avoid prosecution.
The six women who claim McKinney made sexual advances toward them are white. McKinney is black.
The order to try McKinney was given by Maj. Gen. Robert
Foley, the commanding general of the Military District of
Washington, on the recommendation of the reviewing officer in the case, Col. Owen Powell.
Foley said arraignment would be held immediately, but he did not give a date. McKinney would be expected to enter a plea at the arraignment and declare his legal representation for the trial.
One of the women testified during the earlier hearing that she succumbed to pressure from McKinney and had sex with him while she was pregnant.
Another of the accusers, Sgt. 1st Class Rita Jeczala,
testified at the earlier hearing in Washington that McKinney grabbed her around the waist after a meeting at his temporary quarters, then asked if she wanted to kiss him.
"It was not pleasurable, it was uncomfortable, it was
unwelcome, it was unprofessional ... it was beyond belief," she said.
Defense attorneys have portrayed the women as liars seeking
revenge and publicity hounds with ulterior motives for bringing the accusations.
McKinney is spokesman for soldiers
The proceedings against McKinney have followed widespread
allegations of sexual misconduct against male Army drill
sergeants during the past year, notably at Aberdeen Proving
Ground in Maryland.
As the Army's top enlisted soldier, McKinney serves as a kind of ombudsman to the military Joint Chiefs of Staff on behalf of ordinary soldiers on issues that impact them, including sexual harassment. He has been suspended from those duties pending the outcome of his case.
Two of the original 22 counts against McKinney have been dropped. One was among four counts of maltreatment of a subordinate. The other was one of two counts of assault by battery.
During a live McKinney interview on CBS' "Public Eye With Bryant Gumbel" last week, McKinney said he would not accept any deal with the military to avoid prosecution.
"I am not pleading guilty to anything," he said. "I continue
to tell you that I am innocent of all these allegations and
Reuters contributed to this report.